Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ice pop giveaway

Each year, our church gives each of its community groups $200 as a "good neighbor fund" to share love and neighborliness and extravagance in our Seattle communities.

This year, our group decided to do a bunch of small things, like baking up some goodies for teachers at Seattle Central who have had it rough with recent cutbacks, and donating school supplies to Seattle Central students who need them. Our biggest event was today, when we gave away over 1,000 ice pops today in the Fourth of July heat at Madrona Park.

All told, it took only half an hour for every pop to be claimed. As we were setting up, I thought a few of us might need to head into the crowd to start the giveaway, but pretty much as soon as the signs went up, we had a crowd, and as word spread all eight of us were working as fast as we could to scissor off the ends and meet demand.

Ian and Sharon took a rolling cooler to the far north end of the park and Lindsey and Amanda went south, to make sure everyone had a shot at getting some. At the end we ended up giving away our bottled water and the bags of ice to folks who just missed the last of the pops.

It was a real pleasure to see kids shyly walk up to us and ask for one pop and receive three instead. How often do you get more than you asked for? How often do you get to give away with extravagance?

There wasn't any need to give away food to strangers. Often it seems like we should stick to helping people only when the need is acute and visible. But I loved this idea of just swooping in and brightening people's day: the simplicity, beauty, and the unexpectedness of it.

Madrona is a section of the city that's usually neglected and overlooked, so it seemed like an apt place to lavish some attention. Everyone was grateful and smiling — except perhaps whoever was driving the ice cream truck that kept circling the street. I'm sure we killed business for an hour or so.

Big thanks to everyone who helped make this possible: Ian, who scoped out the parks in advance and organized coolers and ice, Rebecca, who froze nearly all the pops in her freezer even though it required a few days of shifting them around, Lindsey, who rounded up the team and the pops in her truck, Matt and Roxy, who made the signs and brought a table and the much needed scissors, Sharon, for carrying around the 'free ice pops' sign through the park like a sandwich board, and Amanda, who tolerated a thousand ice pops clogging our kitchen for a month after we purchased them. (Oh, and Corin, for testing out several flavors for us.)

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